As I read this week's chapter, my most striking takeaway centers on a sentence found on page 124: "What amazes us is justice, not grace." This is absolutely true. It wasn't until I was in seminary that God began to show me the folly of asking, "Why doesn't God save everyone?" it was then, as I was immersed in my studies, that I came to ask, "Why does God save anyone?" I was part of that group that was seeking to put myself and my fallen, warped view of justice and fairness above God's view of justice. I picture myself foolishly shaking a finger toward the heavens saying, "God, now you know my way is the only fair way to hand out salvation." What a horrible perspective I had! I am so thankful God showed me that He is not obliged to treat all people equally.
With that said, I think there is something lacking in this chapter. I think Sproul is right on the mark about God's justice and our not deserving even the breaths we take as we write/read this blog entry. Justice means we are cut off from the moment of conception, but mercy allows us to live. However, as a pastor, I've walked into the tragic living rooms of life, and while this truth is in my mind, it's not coming out of my mouth in the times of pain and loss. I'm not putting my arm around the woman who lost her husband saying, "Well, this was just justice...he didn't deserve to live anyway...by the way, you don't either."
That's why I say something is 'lacking' and not 'wrong.' I actually don't think R.C., who is pastoring a church in Florida now, would enter a living room and say something as insensitive as that either. He would weep with those who weep, as he ought. This doesn't mean that the idea of God's "fairness" never gets discussed through the grieving process, but we must remember that "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver" (Prov. 25:11). It's like always having "all things work together for the good" on the tip of your tongue walking into a tragedy. It is always true, but it is not always a "word fitly spoken."
Overall, this chapter does serve to give a lofty view of our holy God and a low view of man, which is good and right. When I read about our sin bearing false witness against the image of God we are meant to bear as humans, I had to set the book down and just chew on that tasty morsel of an idea. I was especially thought-provoked when Sproul was talking about Uzzah and the ox cart, and he drew the conclusion that the filth of the ground would not pollute the ark nearly as much as the filth of Uzzah the sinner. I'll close by quoting the passage I highlighted here:
Was Uzzah's act "an act of holy heroism? No! It was an act of arrogance, a sin of presumption. Uzzah assumed that his hand was less polluted than the earth. But it wasn't the ground or the mud that would desecrate the ark; it was the touch of man. The earth is an obedient creature. It does what God tells it to do. It brings forth its yield in its season. It obeys the laws of nature that God has established. When a temperature falls to a certain point, the ground freezes. When water is added to the dust, it becomes mud, just as God designed it. The ground doesn't commit cosmic treason. There is nothing polluted about the ground."
The ground we walk on is more fit for the holy things of God than our hearts and lives. It's not just that sin negated all our holiness...it is that we are positively depraved! Our depravity cursed the ground Adam and his descendants worked...the universe was an innocent by-stander...sharing in the effects of sin's curse because of our rebellion against a holy God. This is why the creation longs for the revelation of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19). When that glory is revealed, then the groaning of creation and the groaning of our souls will be answered by God graciously giving birth to a new age...one in which creation will be redeemed and so will our sin-ridden bodies. Maranatha...come Lord, Jesus!